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Basingwerk Manor

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the community of Bagillt.
In the historic county of Flintshire.
Modern authority of Flintshire.
Preserved county of Clwyd.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ19597747
Latitude 53.28814° Longitude -3.20760°

Basingwerk Manor has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Manor held by (unknown) in Domesday book at 1086. The evidence for any fortification on or near the site of Basingwerk itself is unsatisfactory and inconclusive. Coenwulf, King of Murcia (r. 796-821) is believed to have died at Basingwerk while campaigning against the Welsh (Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, 60-61; Stenton 1998, 230), which highlights the possibility of a pre-existing Mercian fortification at Basingwerk. In 1157 Basingwerk and Rhuddlan were fortified by Henry II (r. 1154 - 89): rex Henricus et Basiwerch firmavit (Annales Cestrienses, 21). The Latin verb firmare frequently meant refortification (Coulson 1994, 70), and so this phrase in the Annals Cestrienses or the Chronicle of the Abbey of St Werburgh (Annales Cestrienses, 21) is open to interpretation. Fortifications at Basingwerk therefore probably existing prior to 1157. (Swallow 2016)

Swallow goes on to mention the placename element weorc also suggest a Mercian fortification, although it may refer to Wat's Dyke. She places this quite precisely at SJ19597747 which is the centre of Basingwerk Abbey.
As Swallow states this evidence is unsatisfactory. It is not entirely certain the modern Basingwerk is on the same site as the Mercian weorc which may have ben at Hen Blas, Bryn Castell, Holywell or elsewhere. Nor is it at all certain the Mercian weorc was the same location as the C12 Basiwerch, although there must be some relationship. It is not unknown for monastic houses to be founded on the sites of fortifications (as a way to demilitarise areas or as a way to useful dispose of unwanted and otherwise difficult to utilise property (The best example of this is Old Buckenham Castle as the charter of 1151-2 survives.). On the face of it the Abbey founded in 1137 can not be on the site of a fortification used in 1157 but again the history is not straightforward and the original Abbey foundation may have elsewhere before moving to this site (and bringing the place-name with it!?) after 1157 (actually the Annales Cestrienses date the foundation as 1157 in the same entry in which the fortification of Basingwerk is mentioned).
What can be said is this location, on the coast road, is much more strategically important that the existing small castles otherwise suggested for the C12 'fortification', not just militarily but also from the point of view of political administration and taxation of trade. In fact the location is of such value that it is difficult to believe it did not have some form of administrative centre in the C8-C12 period until that function was taken over by the Abbey and that during that period, in this actively contested area, it can be expected that such an administrative centre would be fortified.
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This record last updated 15/07/2016 11:34